Below is part one of two of an interview with Hannah Greeno about puppy farming, how to find puppies responsibly and what to avoid when looking. Conducted by Priya Bassi.
PB: How would you define and describe puppy farms (also known as puppy mills)?
HG: I would describe puppy farms as commercial producers and suppliers of puppies with their sole interest being monetary gain. Purposefully disregarding the health and welfare requirements, both physical and mental, of the dogs and any puppies produced.
PB: What do you think the main cause of the increasing popularity of puppy farming in the United Kingdom is? And what other factors do you think encourages puppy farming?
HG: I think the main cause of the increasing popularity of puppy farming in the UK is the current culture of impulse buying and consumerism which is supported and encouraged by the mainstream media. The public are able to purchase a puppy online the same way they would a television or their weekly shop. Or walk into a pet shop and buy 'the puppy in the window' with little to no advice given or questions asked. On a larger scale, unhappy people sometimes buy dogs impulsively in an attempt to make themselves feel better.
PB: Some argue that the media/internet is responsible for the increase in demand for puppies from mills as people are able to advertise the dogs online so that the true wellbeing of the dogs is unknown. However there is a counter argument that the media is important as it can bring awareness to the issue in a positive way through things such as online petitions. What role do you think the media/internet plays in puppy farming; is it necessary or unnecessary, is it more positive or negative?
HG: As with many issues, the key to solving the problem of puppy farming is education. The media and internet can be useful in serving this purpose. It is necessary to use the media and internet to create and spread awareness about these issues. However, currently I would say this medium is more negative than positive due to the following examples:
Film, eg. 101 Dalmatians, Men in Black etc.
PB: Do you find yourself getting a lot of inquires about how to avoid buying a puppy from a puppy farm?
HG: Unfortunately I don't get many inquiries from people looking to avoid buying their puppy from a puppy farm, unless they have been referred to me by a previous client.
Roughly 1 in 4 puppies I see are from a puppy dealer. A puppy dealer is someone who buys in puppies from the puppy farm in order to sell them on for profit. It has been known that this type of person will purposefully keep the puppies in very poor conditions so as to tug on the heart strings of customers, leading them to buy them the whole litter in an attempt to 'rescue' them. This is quick money for the dealer, who then replaces the puppies with more to sell and so it goes on.
PB: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to buy a dog that could help them avoid buying from a puppy mill?
HG: I set up my business to help combat puppy farming so I provide a service called Canine Needs Puppy Match. This allows me to guide a client through the puppy buying process step by step right from the beginning to avoid many of the mistakes that people commonly make. It does so much more than prevent people buying from puppy farms, but elements included that combat this problem are:
Responsible breeder sourcing – going to the right websites to find BREEDERS not adverts.
Interviews – Conduct telephone interviews to ensure they are actually a responsible breeder, I usually do this on behalf of my clients as I know the right questions to ask. I then expect the breeder to want to interview my client.
Home testing – I conduct a series of tests at the breeders home. Do not even go and see the puppies before meeting the mother first, if the mother is not perfect, go home.
The best guarantee for preventing puppy farming is dog rescue.